First let me make one thing perfectly clear. I never met a building that Columbia College Chicago (the largest South Loop landowner) had anything to do with that wasn't improved by its tender loving care. New, old, renovated, restored. I have always been impressed. And you can read proof of my heartfelt feelings of that nature right here.
Having said that, I'm a little nervous about new plans that will begin several months from now on the 618 S. Michigan Avenue building facade. Or, as I call it, "the old Spertus." Columbia has owned the building for the last few years and did a remarkable job eliminating the fortress-like wall base it once sported, replacing it with long, curvy and beautiful windows showcasing the work of the school's fashion students.
But get this! Guess what the new facade is going to be made of? Glass! Actually, a glass composite with concrete mixed in that will be digitally construed in a way that will mimic the original building facade.
I think a glass facade from the 1950s is vintage enough to preserve at this point. And restore. And although the point is well-taken that the current glass facade of 618 is out of character with the spirit and look of the landmark South Michigan Avenue streetwall
, is a modern glass/concrete concoction any more in character? Why try to recreate the old--when you simply can't anymore? My vote would be to give some of that TLC that columbia so generously dishes out to the 1950s panes of glass that are there now. Forget the imitation old, older, oldest.
If absolutely nothing can be done to preserve the mid-century facade, why not just go bold like the new Spertus
next door? And do something really interesting with a new style facade entirely?
What do people think? Jeanette Johnson, GSLA board member says there's time left for the community to weigh in.
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